Friday, September 2, 2011

Movie Review: "Children of the Corn: Genesis" (2011)

Hello.  I, your humble blogger, am going to review the new movie in everyone's favorite film series, the Children of the Corn franchise.  In an attempt to keep myself interested in doing so, it will be in the form of a self interview.

Q:  Hello, Bryant.  Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today.

A:  You're welcome, Bryant.  It's my pleasure, honestly.

Q:  My first question would be this: did you steal the idea for a self-interview from Stephen King?

A:  Yes.  Yes, I did.  Also, from Alexandra DuPont.

Q:  Okay then.

A:  That gonna be a problem?

Q:  Nosir.

A:  Okay then.

Q:  My second question would be this: are you a Children of the Corn fan?

A:  Hmm. That's a difficult question to answer.  I want to say "no," but then again, I do own every single one of the movies on DVD, even the dreadful remake.  For those of you keeping track at home, that's nine, including this one.  For a comparison within my collection, the scorecard now reads Children of the Corn 9, Woody Allen 0.

Q:  So you hate Woody Allen?

A:  I do not.  He's made dozens of wonderful movies (I'm especially fond of Annie Hall and Manhattan), and I'd love to own every single one of them and a shelf upon which to display them.

Q:  However...?

A:  However, it's got to mean something that I own nine more Children of the Corn movies than I do Woody Allen movies.  And part of that something must include me being a fan of the franchise.  Seems odd, but I guess it's true.

Q:  Okey doke. Do you actually like the movies?

A:  No ... and yes.

Q:  Bilbo Baggins!  Do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks!  I'm not trying to rob you!  I'm trying to help you.

A:  ...

Q: Sorry.  Thought you were quoting The Fellowship of the Ring.

A:  ...

Q:  Ahem.

A:  Yes, well, anyways ... no I do not actually like the movies in the sense of them being quality cinematic experiences, but on the other hand, yes I do actually like them in some perverse way that I have yet to quite figure out for myself.  The original is still moderately effective simply because it's lowbrow '80s schlock, and that sort of stuff works on me because of the nostalgia factor.  (And also because King's story is good, and enough of it gets into the movie to make it recognizable as King.)  And I like Linda Hamilton in it.  The sequels -- I should say "sequels" -- are obviously just preposterous excuses to try and make money off an established brand-name.

Q:  But they aren't even that preposterous!  It's not like we're talking about Leprechaun in the Hood or Jason X here!

A:  I know, right?  Not a single one of the people who have made these movies have tried a blatant gimmick like that!  I admire that in a way, because they are obviously trying -- in some oddly moving and faintly pathetic fashion -- to try and keep the Children of the Corn legacy pure.  Even in this new movie, which has virtually nothing to do with corn and only a small amount to do with children, they're trying to shoehorn a different type of story into the saga ... but they took the time and effort to film a short prologue set in Gatlin, so that we know it's all connected to the original.

Q:  Couldn't they have just made whatever they wanted and slapped "Children of the Corn" somewhere in the title?  Idiots like you The people who are buying these movies clearly wouldn't mind.

A:  They could have.  But I admire the fact -- the sad, sad fact -- that the producers opted not to do so.  They obviously respect the fact that the fans of the series demand that they not stick too closely to the premise, and are doing what they can to honor the original by moving away from it entirely but in a car which runs on ethanol.  Get it?  Cause ethanol is made from corn...?

Q:  The fuck is this guy talking about?

A:  Did you say something?

Q:  Hurm...  No, no.  Let's shift gears just a bit.  Obviously your relationship with this series is ... unconventional.  So how does the new one measure up?

A:  I'm glad you asked me that question, Bryant.  Truth is, I didn't hate it. It's probably roughly as good as the last one (2001's Children of the Corn: Revelation), which means it's close to the bottom of the pack, but it's nowhere near as bad as that dreadful remake to which I alluded earlier, and it's probably also better than both Urban Harvest and Fields of Terror.  It has a few things to recommend, I guess, at least to people who are drawn to the series in the same way I am drawn to it.

Q:  For example?

A:  Well, I like the cast fairly well.  Billy Drago (pronounced "Draygo," not "Drahgo" like the guy from Rocky IV) is the guy they tapped to fill the requisite washed-up-actor role; he plays a creepy old man, and he's fairly good at it.  He once played Frank Nitti in The Untouchables opposite Robert DeNiro, so he's got some chops, and he gets to show them here.

Q:  Wasn't he also in Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection opposite Chuck Norris?

A:  Indeed.  Your point being...?

Q:  No point, no point.  Who else do you like in this movie?

A:  Well, there's Barbara Nedeljakova, who played one of the evil sirens in Hostel.  She has...

Q:  Stop.

A:  ...a way of looking alluring and deeply untrustworthy at the same time.

Q:  Oh.
A:  Why don't more people like Hostel, by the way?  I thought it was very close to being a masterpiece.  I felt dirty after watching that movie, like I needed to take a mental shower of some sort.  But it was a good kind of dirty, because it told me what parts of my brain needed washing.

Q:  I suspect the last act got a bit unbelievable for some people.

A:  Yeah, maybe.  And the sequel was only so-so.  In any case, Nedeljakova is in Children of the Corn: Genesis, and she's obviously a competent actress if rather limited, so hopefully Hollywood will eventually find something better for her to do than this.

Q:  Who else?

A:  Kelen Coleman (that's pronounced "Keeluhn," by the way) plays the woman who gets stranded with her husband.  She's pretty good, too.  Her husband is played by Tim Rock; he's not as good, but he's okay, and after all, the movie only asks him to be sort of a wuss, and he does that without being incredibly obnoxious, which is how these things usually go.  So I suspect he might be a decent actor; it's just impossible to tell from this movie.

Q:  Is anyone from Pulp Fiction in this?
A:  Funny you should ask.  Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Ving Rhames, Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Kathy Griffin ... they're not in it.

Q:  Oh.

A:  However, Duane Whitaker, who played one of the rapists -- the one not named Zed -- is in it.  He's got cornpone charm, and is also creepy, so I suppose that's another one for the plus column.

Q:  You mentioned that the movie has very little to do with the rest of the series.  Could you be more specific?

A:  Sure.  There is a prologue in which we see a soldier coming home from the war in 1973 Gatlin, and he gets home just in time to find his entire fambly slaughtered by the titular children. Poor guy; he didn't know he was getting discharged right into a Stephen King story.

Q:  Did you say fambly?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Okay.  So, what's this got to do with the rest of the movie.

A:  Well -- SPOILERS, lol! -- he grows up to be creepy Billy Drago.

Q:  How does he escape from Gatlin?

A:  No idea.  Does it matter?

Q:  Probably not.

A:  Right.  So, anyways, he goes to live in Lickskillet, California or wherever the fuck, and at some point he orders himself a European mail-order bride, and either does or doesn't get her pregnant with a telekinetic child whom they keep locked in a shed.  Somehow, this has to do with He Who Walks Behind The Rows, who is the kid locked in the shed, or is trying to be reborn through Kelen Coleman, or is doing some damn shit that I wasn't paying close enough attention to figure out.  It's possible that I'm supposed to think he drifted through the air and ended up here.  Or maybe Ivan Billy Drago brought him with him when he headed west.  Beats the hell outta me.

Q:  It sounds as if your enthusiasm for this movie is waning.

A:  It does sound like that.  And yet, no, it isn't!

Q:  That makes no sense.

A:  I know!

Q:  ...sigh...  Okay, so anyways, is there anything else you'd like to add, Bryant?

A:  That's not how this works, Bryant.  You ask questions, and I answer 'em.  Fire away.

Q:  Jesus, do I have to?

A:  Dance, monkey!

Q:  Okay, fine.  How is the cinematography?

A:  Surprisingly good.  It was shot by Alexandre Lehmann, and some of it looks really good.  The nighttime scenes aren't that convincing, but given how quickly the movie was shot -- two weeks, so essentially we're talking low-budget television schedule here -- it looks pretty darn good on the whole.  Better than it ought to look, probably.

Q:  So, if the story isn't about children slaughtering adults in and around corn fields, what the hell is it about?

A:  Well, a young married couple get stranded while on a road trip, during which the husband decided to take a detour -- a nod toward the King story, that -- and find themselves asking for help at precisely the wrongest house. From there, they are trapped inside the house and not allowed to leave.  There's a creepy old preacher who might be holding them there, or perhaps it's his hot mail-order bride, or perhaps it's the ghostly child who they think they see and hear running around the place.  That's about it, really.

Q:  Is it scary?

A:  It is not.

Q:  Even a little?

A:  Nope.  Uh-uh.

Q:  Is there any stock footage used to construct a major sequence toward the end which is supposed to provide production value?
A:  There definitely is.

Q:  Did you buy this movie on Blu-ray?

A:  I did not, but only because I don't yet have a Blu-ray player.

Q:  Okay.  Can we end this interview now?

A:  Have you got something better to do?

Q:  Yes!  I want to read issue #2 of Locke & Key: Clockworks!

A:  Ooh!  Shit, yeah!  I want to read that, too!

Q:  Well, what are we waiting for?

A:  We're not.


  1. Have to agree with everything you say. Why do I love this franchise so much? Corn puns, probably.